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Solatium

Postby Mr Comedy on Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:12 pm

Many thanks to everyone for a thoroughly enjoyable debate last night. I had an excellent time (as was evidenced by the industrial quantities of gin I managed to crack through).
In particular many thanks to Mr Watt and Mr Potton (who I suspect are co-habiting) for letting me crash at their flat.

[hr]

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90 Quid

Postby Jessica on Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:32 pm

Yes!

Also, an excellent dinner. It seems several people forgot to pay for bits and bobs (I'm assuming it's extras like drinks and naan bread) at the Balaka, and the restaurant has charged the UDS 90 pounds.

This is a lot of money, especially at the end of the year, and will have to come out of the LPH budget, as we do not subsidise dinners.

If you forgot to pay Zoe (the Steward) or think you may owe her a bit more than you originally thought, please drop her an email @ zgs.

Thanks!
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Re:

Postby fearghas on Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:11 pm

Indeed a most enjoyable evening that was marred slightly by the situation with the bills at the Balaka.

I think that the problem may well have arisen when people mistakenly thought that the deal that they were informed about in the link up and subsequently reminded of on the back of the order paper actually existed, and ordered appropriately. Thus people were suddenly put upon at the presentation of the bill, as the price was markedly more than they had been expecting.

Also, the tactic of producing an arbitrary bill at a table and demanding they pay it, as happened with Messrs Hunt et al, where on a table of 10 diners, the steward produced them with a bill for 18 meals. Perhaps not they way to curry (if you'll pardon the pun) favour with all and sundry.

With regards to subsidising meals, isn't that all you can do with profit from dinners such as, ooh, the Parliamentary? I though that under the charities malarky, the profit couldn't be used for anything else?

Anyhoo, a most enjoyable evening with good conversation over port, an interesting and humourous debate and good dinner, even if I did end up paying £60 for what was advertised at £15.
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Re:

Postby Lid on Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:05 pm

Quoting fearghas from 20:11, 27th Mar 2008
I think that the problem may well have arisen when people mistakenly thought that the deal that they were informed about in the link up and subsequently reminded of on the back of the order paper actually existed, and ordered appropriately.


You'll be meaning:

For 15 pounds you'll be feasting on:
-pompadoms
-starter
-rice
-main (curry of your choice!)
...and wine!


Also, the tactic of producing an arbitrary bill at a table and demanding they pay it, as happened with Messrs Hunt et al, where on a table of 10 diners, the steward produced them with a bill for 18 meals.


The Steward left the bills there with a "I'm just leaving these here so people remember to pay and know how much to" before disappearing off and leaving us to explain to the Balaka that eleven of us (one that wasn't eating) couldn't possibly get through 18 portions of curry. Maybe I'd have been more willing to pay had I had my free wine.

With regards to subsidising meals, isn't that all you can do with profit from dinners such as, ooh, the Parliamentary? I though that under the charities malarky, the profit couldn't be used for anything else?

I thought so too, and indeed I thought that all residual profit was being ploughed into this meal to get a bit better deal for something that deserved to be memorable.

Anyhoo, a most enjoyable evening with good conversation over port, an interesting and humourous debate and good dinner, even if I did end up paying £60 for what was advertised at £15.

I agree, paying for a bottle of wine that I didn't drink to settle up the bill aside, I enjoyed the night, good banter and a good send-off to Tom.

[hr]

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Re:

Postby knight time hippy on Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:21 am

I resent your bizarre accusations, Fearghas, that I deployed 'tactics' in providing bills or 'demanded' that people pay. As subsequent events prove, certain individuals were defeated by the task of calculating how much they owed and needed to see a bill. Those who decided to leave without paying were at liberty to do that regardless of the bills that were provided.

At no point did I ask Royce to pay for 18 dinners. He was sat on a table of 18 so necessarily the bill for his food was accounted for on a bill for 18 meals.

The deal which the UDS receives from the Balaka, and has done all year, was elucidated to each table before people ordered so everyone was aware that they had to pay for anything they ordered beyond the 13.95 curry deal. I explained at the time that people would have to pay for any drinks they ordered.

Whether certain individuals failed to look at the bills provided when paying for their meals, or whether they simply left the restaurant without paying, the Union has been charged ninety pounds. Now surely that is what fails to curry favour (oh, what a good pun, Fearghas) with anyone.

Zoe Sutherland - Steward to the House
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Re:

Postby Lid on Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:40 am

Quoting knight time hippy from 01:21, 28th Mar 2008
At no point did I ask Royce to pay for 18 dinners. He was sat on a table of 18 so necessarily the bill for his food was accounted for on a bill for 18 meals.

You did present a bill for 18 meals to our table, not to me personally (but then again Fearghas never accused you of doing so), and I even argued with you at the time about this because there just weren't 18 people at that table. However as we were served last, all the Board had left by the time it came to us settling with the Balaka, hence why a few of us had to pick up the tab for unpaid items. I'm not whinging picking up the tab, I'm whinging about how it was executed.

The deal which the UDS receives from the Balaka, and has done all year, was elucidated to each table before people ordered so everyone was aware that they had to pay for anything they ordered beyond the 13.95 curry deal. I explained at the time that people would have to pay for any drinks they ordered.

Except seemingly our table, nobody from the Board came over until after the meal when Jess came over for a chat. We picked up that the stuff in the linkup and on the order paper was false by word of mouth, and when we asked Asif, he quoted us a starter, main, poppadom and rice, but with no price mentioned. Either way, we don't really escape the fact that we were brought there under false pretences.

Whether certain individuals failed to look at the bills provided when paying for their meals, or whether they simply left the restaurant without paying, the Union has been charged ninety pounds. Now surely that is what fails to curry favour (oh, what a good pun, Fearghas) with anyone.

Easily solved - ticket it, and run individual bar tabs, rather than things going on the general tab. You'll never know who paid for what and who didn't now, so the best that can be done is put this down to experience and hopefully the new Steward can learn from it.

[hr]

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Re:

Postby ChrisH on Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:26 am

Ahh, ticketing dinners.
While I shan't be drawn on the specifics of what happened on the night I would like to comment upon the issue for paying for debates dinners.

This is not the first time that we have had issues with settling bills at the end of the night, normally it is for far smaller amounts that are covered by the general pot, despite others putting in tips. Either that or myself as treasurer or the steward would chuck in a couple of quid and crawl home to bed as it was too late to argue. One of the major issues is that we dine much later than other societies and people want to leave at midnight.

We've tried different ideas over the past few meals, the problem being is that we want to offer flexibility, especially at the Balaka where the portions are huge and they are not giving us a set menu. With a large number of diners and a huge range of orders ticketing would create its own problems.

Even something that appears as simple as making everyone pay for their drinks at the bar doesn't actually work out in practice, even when informing all of the dinner guests and waiting staff, people still decide to order now and settle later. It is quite understandable as to why one would want to do that, especially if wanting to pay by card or some such. The problem is that it then takes one person to forget (maliciousness is also a possibility but I don't for a second believe this is always, or indeed ever, the case).

I hope this was informative, of course if anyone can think of ideas that would help then that would be much appreciated. Sadly we generally have to rely upon trusting everyone to remember to pay what they owe. I think we can all agree that £90 is a step too far in terms of something that anyone should have to swallow, and that it needs to be looked into.

On the issue of subsidising dinners I think there is a huge difference between subsidising, and making up the difference when the bill is not settled. One is a potentially legitimate activity, a debate I won't get into here. The other is condoning theft, and given that I can remember candidates for steward being asked what they would do to improve the image of debates dinners, definitely something we don't want to be seen to be condoning and tacitly encouraging.

Of course the exact circumstances are unknown to me and therefore I would like to reiterate that I am not accusing anyone here (as much fun as shouting j'accuse is...)
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Re:

Postby Lid on Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:26 am

I was more suggesting that tickets are sold at £15 for the standard meal (i.e. a starter, any main apart from king prawn or tandoori mixed grill, poppadom and rice), and like at the Parliamentary, have a 'no-ticket no-food' policy - at least that way it stops people making off without paying for at least some of it. It would also remove the possibility of us having to turn people away - I believe that we filled the restaurant this time, so we might have turned people away, I'm not sure.
Surely we can negotiate that individual members have individual bills for anything above and beyond that (naan, drink etc.). I usually ask for a separate bill for drinks that whoever I am ordering with and I order, unfortunately on this occasion it went on the general bill.

Yes, the UDS has had to stump up £90, and hopefully some of those that didn't remember to pay on the evening will come forwards and cough up, but I know that there were several members there that paid more than their fair share too, so the situation could have been much worse. It's also really not helpful the Steward raising her heckles at Fearghas, when he, by virtue of the fact he stumped up £45 more than he need have done, saved the UDS from a bill for £135.

I further thought that the profit (be it modest) from dinners passim was to be ploughed into this one for the wine, as was discussed at BoT. If this is not the case, where has this money gone? And where is my wine?

I could continue, but I fear I'll only get shouted at.

[hr]

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Re:

Postby knight time hippy on Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:20 pm

I have now passed the names of those who remained at the Balaka when I left to the Union. The Union will be bringing disciplinary action. As it stands the group is liable for the ninety pounds unless individuals are prepared to come forward and pay what they owe. I think a situation where some people have to pick up the tab for others who decide not to pay is abhorrent. The only way we have of rectifying the situation is passing all the names we have to the Union so that it can investigate and find out exactly who didn't pay. This way Fearghas and others can be reimbursed.

The UDS does not subsidise theft and we will refuse entry to events to those who have outstanding debts to the society. This means that unless we know the individuals who failed to pay we have to bill everyone who was left in the restaurant as a group. Hopefully it will become apparent who did not pay and other people or the society will not face a financial penalty.

Royce: 'It's also really not helpful the Steward raising her heckles at Fearghas, when he, by virtue of the fact he stumped up £45 more than he need have done, saved the UDS from a bill for £135'.

The very fact that Fearghas had to pay more than he owed points to a problem. He shouldn't have had to do this and I shouldn't have to defend myself against criticisms for providing bills so that people knew what they owed.
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Re:

Postby Lid on Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:34 pm

Quoting knight time hippy from 12:20, 28th Mar 2008
I have now passed the names of those who remained at the Balaka when I left to the Union. The Union will be bringing disciplinary action. As it stands the group is liable for the ninety pounds unless individuals are prepared to come forward and pay what they owe.


I'm sure the Union wouldn't tolerate a witch hunt or false accusations either. As one of the people that remained at the Balaka after you left (seeing as I was served MUCH later than any of the BoT table), and also one that stumped up more than my fair share, I would resent it in the strongest possible terms if the Union tried to take disciplinary action against me.

The UDS does not subsidise theft and we will refuse entry to events to those who have outstanding debts to the society.

That might require Association Board's approval - the clause in the laws prohibits anyone who is in bad standing with the union entry to the union. As for the most part events are held in LPH, it is outside this remit.

The very fact that Fearghas had to pay more than he owed points to a problem. He shouldn't have had to do this and I shouldn't have to defend myself against criticisms for providing bills so that people knew what they owed.

I could understand presenting a bill so people can get an idea of what they owe, but presenting two bills (one for 11 meals and wine and another for 8 meals and wine) to a table of 11 and then the Balaka seeking recompense for these bills is anything but acceptable. If the Balaka had been of the understanding that that was just so we could work out how much we each owed, that would have been fine, but as far as the Balaka were aware, we were liable for the full amount.

[hr]

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Re:

Postby Eliot Wilson on Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:45 pm

I wouldn't normally intrude on private grief, but, hell, let me exercise the privilege of honorary life membership of the Debating Society and ask a simple question: why, at a Debating Society-hosted and -run dinner, was not the Steward (or else a Board member standing in for the Steward) present until AFTER the bills had been paid?

[hr]

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Re:

Postby TC on Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:03 pm

Right, I would just like to say a few things about this very difficult situation.

Firstly this is not about a witch hunt, We are not trying to pick on any individuals. We have consulted the Association President on the matter and he is adiment that we can not be subserdising peoples dinners from the UDS budget. It goes against charity law and, since we are not a dinning club, it is not the purpose of the UDS to be suberserdising dinners.

Therefore we have to recover the money somehow. The problem we have is since the only people we know who paid are those who left before the Steward we have to bill those who remained accordingly. If we do manage to find out the individuals who did not pay then obviously we will be billing only them for the full amount since that would obviously be the fairest way of resolving the situation.

As for the actions of the Steward I do not think it is unreasonable to believe that once it gets very late that they can trust people to pay their owen bills. I believe that the vast majority of people on Wednesday did do this, as they have done at many previous dinners, and I hope therefore that we can continue to trust people in this mannar.

Again I would like to stress that neither I, nor anyone else, is accusing anyone of being decietful or disshonest. We are constrained by the cercumstances and as a result are taking the only possible course of action open to us. I again make the point that if we do find out who did and did not pay then we will of course only be billing those who didn't.

As for who was serverd first at the dinner it is very unfair to lay this matter at the Stewards door. She had nothing to do with it, it was the decision of the Balaka as to who they served in which perticular order.

I am very sorry that this matter did come up at my Solatium and realise that the action we are taking is not a popular move. However the only alternative is for the UDS to foot bill entirely. I do not believe that this is right and neither does the Union and as a result we have a duty to recover the money. The solution that we have come up with is as far as I can see the only one open to us.

[hr]

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Re:

Postby Lid on Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:14 pm

Quoting TC from 13:03, 28th Mar 2008
Firstly this is not about a witch hunt. We have consulted the Association President on the matter and he is adiment that we can not be subserdising peoples dinners from the UDS budget. It goes against charity law and since we are not a dinning club is not the purpose of the UDS.

Why did you not go to the DoSDA? Jenny is your line manager.

Therefore we have to recover the money. The problem we have is since the only people we know who paid are those who left before the Steward we have to bill those who remained accordingly.

I shall not pay said bill. I have already paid above and beyond my liability as afforded on that bill.

As for who was serverd first at the dinner it is very unfair to lay this matter at the Stewards door. She had nothing to do with it, it was the decision of the Balaka as to who they served in which perticular order.

I didn't blame the Steward for this, I just see it a bit unfair that we should stump up the bill because the Balaka chose to serve us last. In fact, members of the BoT left moments after we were served - hardly our fault.

I do not believe that this is right and neither does the Union and as a result we have a duty to recover the money.

From those of us who have already paid? Unless you have hard and fast evidence that my colleagues and I stole from the Union, this is nothing more than a witch-hunt. Further, it's plain and simple defamation.

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Re:

Postby exnihilo on Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:31 pm

You're also being misinformed in respect of charity law for this matter. There is nothing whatever to prevent the UDS from subsidising a dinner from its budget - it has done so for decades.

From what I've read here it would seem grossly unfair to target only those who left after the Steward, especially as several of them have paid considerably more than the amount they were supposed to.

If you want to do anything about getting the money back you would, in fairness, levy a small charge on everyone who was at the dinner, or swallow the £90 - especially given the apparent confusion over what was advertised.

If you don't know who was there, or you don't know who paid and who did not then that is a dereliction of the Board's duties and the £90 should be paid by the ten of you, as would be the case in any other society.
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Re:

Postby Ewan MacDonald on Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:44 pm

Firstly I thought the debate was very entertaining, and it was nice to see a few old warhorses come back and show us what we have been missing (or not). It was one of the most entertaining chamber debates I have seen in some time and I think everyone enjoyed it – and I wouldn’t want the last debate of (another) successful year to be overshadowed.
However.
Apart from the minority of people who paid by card and can therefore prove conclusively that they paid there is no absolute evidence that can exonerate or condemn individuals beyond anybodys word. So I am not sure that individuals who were remiss can be identified, and it is also very hard for anyone else to prove absolutely that they have paid short of identifying tenners and DNA testing them.
As a result I am not sure that accusing people of theft etc on an individual basis is liable to be very effective as a measure. Similarly, unless someone identifies themselves voluntarily I would imagine that the £90 is unrecoverable.
The reason for the system breaking down is due to individual dishonesty. The status quo is predicated on the assumption that people who attend debates dinners would ensure that they paid their way. This has obviously proven itself to be false, and as a result for the future a different system will be required. This is regrettable, but as opposed to taking things on trust on or the word of individuals the steward will henceforth have to proceed on the assumption that people won’t pay unless coerced.
This is in no way meant as a criticism of the current incumbent. As far as I could tell from my sober perspective she informed everyone that dinner didn’t include alcohol, and what the deal was, and then made all efforts to settle details – although I left after the loyal toast and cannot comment on later on that evening. Perhaps that was naïve, but at the same time it is fairly horrendous when a society cannot trust its members, and I hope the individuals involved feel pretty shameful as they are the most culpable – and deserve condemnation rather than all the individuals on this thread all of whom appear to have been honest and therefore perhaps shouldn’t be attacking each other with such fervour.
Moreover, there should not have been an enormous wine bill because as I understood it all alcohol was paid for in cash at the time. This was a pain as it involved pulling out pennies at the table, but ensured that there were no extra costs from our table. I am not sure why other people have had such problems and if someone could enlighten me that would be great
For the future I would suggest that a set menu with the details laid out on it might be an idea, and ensure people pay the steward before sitting down to dinner. I would also suggest asking the Balaka to simply run a cash bar which removes the problem of large bar bills
As for whether you wish to impose a charge on all, at a board level, or on all, I think that the simplest option is to write off the costs as entertainment (which I can assure you is perfectly possible – as is subsidising dinners because I did it as treasurer of a different society)
As I said, I don’t think blaming anyone other than the (almost certainly unidentifiable) scoundrels who didn’t pay their share is necessarily that constructive, but I do think that the system needs amended to prevent this happening in the future.


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Re:

Postby Steveo on Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:44 pm

The whole matter is rather simple. A table which sat 11 (of which only 10 had anything to eat) people was presented with a bill for 18 meals. This is 8 meals which were therefore for people who did not exist.

I, personally, paid by cheque, and of course can therefore prove that I handed over my money. I, therefore, will not be paying a single penny more than I already have, as I have no debt to settle.

Being made to prove my character would make me very angry. It is a gross slur on me and those people on the table in question.

This is nothing more than a failure on the part of the organisers of the dinner, namely the Steward and then Board as a whole. It just goes to prove the old phrase: "shit flows downhill," sadly right onto the diners where it doesn't belong.

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Re:

Postby Jamie potton on Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:34 pm

Actually, everyone at the table of eleven did pay, (over and above, in most cases) as Dickie saw to - though did not the Board table number eighteen? Perhaps this is where the confusion lies. I do hope someone has the bill the Balaka made out... the Steward, or whoever was in charge.
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Re:

Postby Dickie on Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:03 pm

I do believe that the actual bill is winging its way to the UDS c/o The Union. Well that is what I requested.
After Counting out all the monies and the extras that were provided by some there present I and Asif recounted the monies and cheques and agreed that the remainder should be sent to the UDS for settlement.

I am not going to enter into this discussion of ticketing as all know my views on this, and as a former steward I know the benifits of organising dinners well in advance and the stronger piont you come from for getting a better deal.

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Re:

Postby Lid on Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:55 pm

Quoting Steveo from 14:44, 28th Mar 2008
I, personally, paid by cheque, and of course can therefore prove that I handed over my money. I, therefore, will not be paying a single penny more than I already have, as I have no debt to settle.


Mercifully, so did I. As soon as the cheque clears, at least. I also chipped in a bit in cash too when we realised the bill was massively short - thanks to Dickie for playing the accountant so well like always.

That aside, I think I've exhausted everything I can say on the matter, save for mentioning diplomacy. I think the way this has been dealt with has been massively off-key. Within 34 hours starting proceedings against people you have no evidence against is certainly not the way to get to the bottom of things. The only communication I've had has been with Tom well after I've essentially already been charged by the Steward.

It's just not cricket, and I think if the blame lies at anyone's doorstep, it certainly isn't ours. I've no doubt that a situation like this is entirely preventable, and I'm disappointed in both the members that didn't pay and the BoT. PPPPPP.

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Re:

Postby knight time hippy on Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:46 pm

I wish to apologise for the day's events as it has worked out that people are perceiving that the reputations of individuals are being called into question. In making a list of names and calling on the Union to investigate, we only recognised the difficulty of finding out exactly who failed to pay for their meal. Having realised that we had an outstanding bill for £90 with a restaurant which has been quite good to us, we did not want to presume to know who was responsible when a whole group was present. The principle of collective responsibility we pursued was designed to encourage anyone who realised they owed money to come forward.

Unfortunately group liability has not worked out. To prevent further suggestions that we are targeting those who we count as loyal friends of the UDS, we will not be pursuing an investigation through the Union.

Those who paid more than their fair share should not have had to do this. Unfortunately this is a situation we are unable to rectify. I regret that we cannot work out exactly what happened at the Balaka on Wednesday. We received the receipt from the Balaka today (incidentally, the restaurant has now been paid), and unfortunately it was not itemised. This means that all we know is that everyone believes they paid, and we still owe £90. We do not want to start basing any assumptions on hearsay, neither do we assume that anyone purposefully neglected to pay.

It would be unfair to pay to subsidise dinners of what some perceive as half the people who attended, but it would also be unfair to assume that people purposefully tried to evade financial responsibility.

As such, the society will foot the bill. Please consider the matter closed.
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